Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shock and Awe

At long last summer nears its end, and Ye Olde Academy beckons once again. Time to try to get back to the everyday reality. I don't know if it'll be possible, though. The events of this, the summer that wound up not happening (grim fanfare), have changed things wayyyyyy too much for there to be any hope of it ever being the same (or something like that...).

I haven't posted anything but song links for ages. I need to do some updating...

  • My father-in-law has finally chilled out a bit. He has started getting more than two hours of sleep per night and has stopped trying to be a non-stop workaholic. He pretty much had to; his health finally fell apart out from under him. His near-constant temper tantrums and irrational demands have eased off, too. Not completely, mind you, but enough for there to be some peace around here.
  • He wasn't the only one in the family to have health issues, either. On Tuesday the 12th my wife woke up with a positively nasty stomach bug coupled with leg and hip pain and a nasty cough...but she went to work anyway. On the 13th I came down with the same symptoms, but even worse. I was wiped out for almost two full days. On the 14th, as I was finally getting better, my son got sick. FIL finally insisted on taking him to the doctor (which my wife and I had both refused to do as we assumed it to be a normal "24-hour flu"), but he didn't really tell the doctor very much. The doctor, not knowing that others in the family had been sick with the same symptoms, took one look at my son's fat gut and dismissed it as "metabolic syndrome from overeating". (Naturally, FIL immediately accepted that line without question.) Finally, on the 16th, my daughter came down with the same symptoms AND FIL's condition got a whole lot worse. I took my daughter to the same doctor who had "seen" my son, but this time I gave him a detailed explanation. He ordered a full battery of tests on my daughter as "representative" of my family. It turned out she had a mycoplasma infection. Last year there was a bit of a mycoplasma epidemic in this area, and all the schools had to take various preventative measures. My daughter apparently got it, and has likely had it for a while. At any rate, the doctor said that, barring a test result showing me NOT infected, I should assume my whole family had the disease and should see about getting medicine for it. (Apparently there is only one type of medicine that is an effective cure, as mycoplasma is resistant to ordinary antibiotics.) FIL had also been having terrible leg pain and a sore throat, so, just in case, I loaded him up in my BLUE RAV4 (practically by force since he didn't want to leave the house) and left to try to get him and myself examined. As it turned out, almost every clinic in this part of Japan was closed for the Obon holidays, so we finally went to the emergency room of the nearest large hospital (the only thing that was open!) and hoped for the best. Luckily, it wasn't busy. We got tested soon and both came up negative. My wife and son also got tested last Monday and came up negative. I guess my daughter was the only unlucky one...for now at least.
  • I usually like a good thunderstorm. I also like rainy days. However, we've been having high-intensity thunderstorms coupled with torrential rains almost every day for the past week! It's starting to get a bit old. It's bad enough that I have to keep shutting down my computer and disconnecting my modem when I have so many things to do. When it really gets going, the thunder can make the house shake. We can hear light fixtures and appliances buzz and crackle along with nearby lightning strikes. And that RAIN... Yesterday I was coming back from Ye Olde Academy when, about a kilometer from home, marble-sized raindrops started falling at a lazy pace. Plop...plop...plop...plop...plop. Then the thunder and lightning started. Five minutes later, as I was pulling into my driveway, it turned into one of the heaviest gully-washers I've ever seen. The ditch next to my parking spot was overflowing after only a few minutes. The road was a creek. Meanwhile, close-range lightning strikes continued to flash and bang all around me. I decided to stay in my car and wait it out. Twenty minutes later, with no sign of it letting up, my wife came driving in from a supermarket run. Sighing, I jumped out of my car to help her carry bags...and was completely drenched in a couple of seconds. We had another storm like that today. I was already home at the time, but this time our new bathroom's roof started leaking badly. The fishpond out front overflowed, too, sending my daughter out in pursuit of a couple of would-be runaways. I didn't close the open upstairs window in time, either, meaning wind-driven rain got blasted into the bedroom for at least the third time in the past week. (No, I won't keep the window shut. It gets too hot up there otherwise!) The main path through the yard is turning into a gully. I can only imagine what havoc this is all wreaking on farmers in this area.
  • I finally decided to make up for the grimness and emptiness of this summer by getting myself a present. One thing I'd long thought of getting for Studio Moodio is a MIDI controller keyboard. (Until now I've either used one of my keyboard synths or programmed notes using the mouse and computer keyboard.) An ordinary one wouldn't do, either; I wanted a full, 88-key type with piano-touch keys. I finally settled on getting a Yamaha KX8, which is a very sweet-looking machine (AND available on Amazon Japan, meaning no need to drive all the way to one of those music shops). There were only a few problems, a couple of which had to do with its size and bulk. I couldn't put it on my existing synth rack, and it was too big to stow in a corner or under a bed. Then I got to looking around and thinking. For basic MIDI programming, a more typical MIDI keyboard controller would be just as good if not better. And as for the 88-key piano-touch keyboard, I recently had a clerk at a music store tell me that, if all I really wanted was the keyboard, it would make far more sense to get a portable digital piano like the Casio Privia, since it had the basic features I wanted without the fluff, could be used in a wider variety of situations, and COST A LOT LESS. I finally wound up getting a Privia PX-120 at a local home electronics store and ordering an Edirol PC-80 from Amazon and, after all the discounts were figured in, paid probably about the same as I would have for the KX8 and a new synth rack. Yes, now I have two keyboards to have to store (and will probably unload the old Korg DSS-1 to make room...after finally just having found an English manual for it), but I'm quite happy about the acquisition. The PC-80 came TODAY, and I was just playing around with it on this computer. about speeding up my music arranging/composing by a factor of ten! I seriously wonder why the f*** I didn't buy one of these things AGES ago! Fortunately my wife hasn't killed me (yet...).
Hey...Japan's softball team just won the Olympic gold medal! They beat the U.S.A.! NO ONE has EVER beaten the U.S.A. in Olympic softball! But I think I'll save all my Olympic testimonials and diatribes for another post.


  • What a summer you've had, MM. I'm glad your FIL is settling down. And that the flu/mycoplasma infection is nearly over for your family. Is it typical in Japan to have such a rainy summer?

    By OpenID nikkipolani, at 1:02 AM  

  • Obesity is the new n*gger. People gotta hate somebody. I just read a study review in New Scientist saying that people are no less active than they were before the obesity epidemic.

    I am glad the FIL is calming down. It is hard, hard, hard to lose a wife. Inevitability means little. My dad still has a tough time.

    Thanks for the keyboard tip. I am not sure if I still have any chops, but you never would be fun to write something. Your RPG has awakened some old angels.

    Good job for Japan in softball! If nothing else, this has been an interesting Olympics from any number of angles.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 2:51 PM  

  • Nikkipolani
    Did I have a summer? {:-S

    We usually get monsoon rains for a period of 2-3 weeks in late June and/or early July. It also gets rainy whenever a typhoon shoots past (especially if it HITS us). This kind of whether, though, with violent thunderstorms and hard, torrential rains resulting in flooding almost every evening for a week is damned peculiar.

    I know what you mean. There is definitely an obesity witch hunt in progress here.

    Hey, if the creative juices are flowing, do something quick before they dry up again!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:36 PM  

  • Would it be a contagious influenza from all of you got? Especially after the fatigues of your family matter, thus it is easy to be sick.

    Wishing all of you recover (whatever health in mind or physical) soon and get back to normal life/work.

    By Blogger PinkPanther, at 10:37 PM  

  • It's good to hear that your FIL is doing better... that's really good. Sometimes when a spouse passes, the other spouse goes downhill and they never come out of it... I'm glad he is.

    I haven't seen any softball on the Olympics. Odd the things we get and don't get here. Japan's been doing quite good, actually. Did you see that Jamaican guy run the 200M the other day?!! wow!!!! He was fast, fast, fast!!! Broke the word record set by ... gosh, his name now escapes me... back in 1996. It was exciting to watch. I'm glad you're catching some of it... and I hope it's exciting for you as well.

    The studio stuff, I'm sure it's very exciting. Hashim always spends days in the studio when he gets new stuff. Keyboards.. he loves new keyboards. A few mths back we went into a music store here and he looked at new ones, but nothing fancy. He wound up staying w/ what he has.

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 3:09 AM  

  • Wishing you and your family good health. Sorry to read of your misery in that area especially so soon after the loss of your MIL.

    Lighting took out our modem, router and microwave oven a few weeks ago. Expensive joke. We were out of town this last several days and missed the latest show - happily unplugged everything in the house while gone.

    Softball rules. Now there's a fun game one can enjoy playing or watching, unlike the pro hardball variety. Yeah for Japan!

    Take care Moody Minstrel & Family!

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:43 PM  

  • Health always goes first. That's my motto. Nothing's worth your body. Sorry about your fil. Hope he's getting better now.

    "I finally wound up getting a Privia PX-120 at a local home electronics store and ordering an Edirol PC-80 from Amazon and... now I have two keyboards to have to store."

    And aha, I love to see people are enthusiastic in music and musical gears, nothing's gonna stop it, even a small storage. I believe you've made the best choice.


    Enjoy Kayboard, Play Everyday!
    John's Yamaha Digital Piano Review

    By Blogger John, at 9:27 PM  

  • There was something nasty going on around here to. Last weekend was miserable.

    My midi controller is a MK-4902. I don't know what the brand is. It has aftertouch, and allows you to change presets on the synth remotely, which is an EMU Proteus 1000.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 2:51 AM  

  • Pink Panther
    I assume it was one of those 24-hour bugs that tend to go around. Since my wife got it first, I figure being tired had a lot to do with it, but she could have picked it up at her school.

    So far only my daughter has shown a mycoplasma infection, so hopefully that will be the end of it.

    Um Naief
    I've heard almost nothing but complaints about TV coverage of the Olympics in the U.S. because of that ugly thing called "exclusive coverage", i.e. only one channel gets the rights, and they decide what to show based on what they think most people want to watch. That's why I'm so thankful Japan uses a rotation system, whereby different channels cover different events. That way there is both a wider selection and freedom of choice.

    (Ironic that American capitalism DENIES freedom of choice!)

    What has Hashim been up to lately? His blog is stalled, and he hasn't replied to any of my messages in a long time.

    Wow! You got seriously torched by that lightning, didn't you? I've had lightning burn up two ISDN terminal adaptors and one DSL modem/router already, so now I unplug mine as a matter of course when the thunder gets above a certain threshold.

    How did it take out your microwave?


    Hey, a good, new toy is good medicine when one is feeling out of sorts, right? ;-)

    I like your site, BTW.

    My Edirol PC-80 has aftertouch and also has assignable controls on it for operating functions either on the synth, softsynth, or on the recording application (in my case SONAR 7, which is also an Edirol product so the two interact smoothly).

    The MK-4902 is a generic MIDI controller made by Kaysound, Evolution, and Midisoft. (Midisoft is apparently no longer in business, and the Kaysound version seems to be most common.)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:02 PM  

  • Dave, how is that Proteus 1000? I understand that it's a lower-budget version of the 2000 (which is also a slimmed-down version of the 2500), but it's said to have some good sounds on it.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:11 PM  

  • Good thing it was just your daughter being infected. Best wishes to your family for good health.

    Yep, a new toy is good for the system. :)

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 11:30 PM  

  • Hashim isn't blogging at all... don't know why he gave it up. He's been studying for a hacker test... huge thing, like 7 or 8 books. Legal hacking though :) He's gotten 3 projects for the studio this past week. Summer saw no projects at all w/ most ppl leaving Bahrain for cooler climates. I told him that you bought some new gear... and I'll tell him that you're asking about him.

    I love Japan's television!!! We don't get that here.. only wish we did. Yeah, I agree... most interesting how the U.S. only shows what they want and they're all about freedom... HA!

    I'm glad you enjoyed watching.. I did too.

    Hope all is ok w/ you and your family. How's your wife?

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 4:32 AM  

  • Moody,

    I really like the Proteus 1000. It was the budget model but it has good sounds, good enough for me anyway.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 7:46 AM  

  • How did you all have similar symptoms and not test positive for mycoplasma?

    Anyway, I hope the recovery was not too long. I've never heard of an outbreak of that nature before.

    You deserve to treat yourself after such a dismal summer. It feels good to gain new gadgets, doesn't it? :)

    By Blogger Olivia, at 9:10 AM  

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